We only need to glimpse at the state of our environment to see there is a disconnect between our culture and nature. We are alienated from our environment. We are alienated from our neighbours. We are alienated from our work. And we are alienated from ourselves. Developing socially responsible organizations and address our environmental challenges will mean taking the training outside the office and into the forest.

If we want to collectively meet our environmental challenges and address pollution and inequality, we need to think outside the box we have been put in.

As an advocate of experiential learning, I believe we truly learn when we are in the moment of learning, observing and doing. This is why the trades are a successful and necessary occupation. Trades people learn through theory and practice and may only be able to administer to their respective skills when they have demonstrated proficiency in their respective environments. Learning and developing leadership can be enhanced by educating outdoors. If we want to collectively meet our environmental challenges and address pollution and inequality, we need to think outside the box we have been put in.  Basically, we cannot be socially responsible until we have experienced an environment that allows us to understand what that means. It is all about context.

These leaves us with two things:

1)   The rise of eLearning in use of organizational training

Although cost effective, eLearning is a technology content-based platform that is akin to reading and testing and requires sitting in an office or similar setup. Multimedia is sometimes employed which can engage the learner however, many people are already over stimulated from cell phone use and screen time at home. Thus, the mind has a way of wanting to quickly scan the information to find the bits that pertain to gaining advantage. This cognitive scanning has been shown to change our brains.

Watch Simon Sinek talk about addiction to technology and cell phones:

Article: 5 Ways Technology is Altering Our Brains


Most adults continue education and learning for different reasons than when they were younger and the motivations may vary. Older adults lack the patience of sitting through eLearning as it can seem uninteresting and tedious. The brains have not adapted and rewired to modern technology. Also, eLearning tend to standardize the learning and therefore is not good for talent development, leadership or exploiting potential. We must use eLearning in good measure but maintain the personal delivery and facilitation that engages people in a meaningful session of learning. Continuance on technology will leave a field of learners that will not perform cognitively for problem-solving that requires a high degree of complex thinking.

2)   We must provide the right types of environments that meet the learning needs

To learn properly and have active and motivated learners, we have to do those things that activate and motivate us. Most people don’t know what motivate them. Motivating for our environment will mean learning and doing in the environment. We can take most of what we can learn, teach and do and bring it outside. The challenge is that urbanized environments lack a sufficient amount of greenspace to allow for natural sights, sound and a sense of peace from technology and the busy city. In this case, outdoor retreats may be the answer to get the team back into nature.

For example, leadership skills are not simply those found in an office setting. Leadership is built on core competencies and systems thinking that allows for complex emotional and intellectual discernment. The confidence, problem-solving and resilience can all be manifested in an outdoors experience. This is why programs like Outward Bound are so successful in developing leadership in youth or people who are looking to get back on track in life.

Aside from the purely practical aspects of building complex thinking resilience abilities, being in nature provides a wealth of health benefits. Mental health is improved, fresh air and the sound and sight of water provide aesthetics and an opportunity to sharpen our senses. A host of benefits to being outside for longer periods of time to the organization include:

  • Being in nature increases brain function
  • Increased creativity! = greater innovation
  • Better concentration
  • More exercise = less depression
  • Vitamin D and solar exposure = better health
  • Less problems sleeping = better attitude and mental clarity

More from this article: https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/06/22/how-the-outdoors-make-you_n_5508964.html

By spending time outside we also begin to appreciate nature. When we value things, we protect them. If we do not build champions for the environment now, then when?

Find out what your social responsibility program in your workplace provides and see how you can get involved. You can make a difference.

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